I bought this car with 99k on the clock for $6000. I've bought several used cars over the last 20 years and have had pretty good luck. But this has been the best little car! I have a long drive to work, so I need a no-frills, comfortable, car with basic amenities (power locks/windows/mirrors, etc) that can eat miles no matter what the weather. I also own a sports car and a MINI, so I need cargo space. The little Subaru hauled me, my family, and my crap over 85,000 largely uneventful miles through rain, snow, ice, grass, and mud over the last 6 years. I've been through deep water and snow up to the bumper. You can't get this car stuck.
I have had a few problems, most of which are related to fact that the shady dealership I bought it from turned off the check engine light. Used oil analysis showed that there was coolant and oil in my oil, so I had the head gaskets done along with the timing at a cost of $3000. I also spent a grand on a new catalytic converter, which was fouled by burning coolant. The rest of the maintenance, other than routine brake and suspension upkeep, I did myself, including oil, filters, lights, belts, hoses, plugs/wires, new alternator, etc. One of the best things about this car is that it's easy to work on (even for a novice like me), which saved me thousands.
Despite the head gasket, this little car was as reliable as a metronome. Every time I turned the key, it started and ran perfectly no matter what. It's compact and easy to maneuver, has a TON of grip for the little tires (AWD), and gets 25 mpg. Crash ratings are 4-star, so I felt good teaching my kids to drive in it. The interior is pretty crappy...the seats are uncomfortable, the back seats have limited leg room, the interior materials are terrible, and the interior ergonomics don't make any sense. But I love it.
I get the Subaru thing now. They're ugly ducklings and they're not that nice inside, but they inspire so much confidence through how they start, run, feel, and drive that they just get under your skin. I'm trading this car today for a 1999 Legacy Outback with low mileage and look forward to more of the same.
I purchased my Forester in Feb of 2002. It was one of only a handle of vehicles around that fit my requirements: storage room for my dj equipment, AWD, great fuel economy, and manual trans. I just went over 250K last week and my goal for 300K is within reach. Once I hit 300K, then I will be shopping for a new Forester. Vehicle handles well and is very reliable. I replaced original clutch at 190K! May not need another one before 300K.
Had a 2002 Outback automatic - a great car but wanted to go back to a manual transmission. Really enjoy driving this Forester - somehow it rides better than the Outback with a shorter wheelbase. Excellent visibility, easy to get in and out of. Geared lower than my '98 Outback which turned around 3200 rpm @ 65mph, the Forester is around 2750. Engine has enough torque to handle moderate hills in 5th gear. Never feels under powered. A lot of room for it's size - cargo capacity very close to an '02 Grand Cherokee. Feels like a sports car with high seating. Bought it at 98k, have about 104k now. Not a concern since I have a company vehicle.
This Forester has been in daily use since we bought it new. It has had very few problems. Replacing the catalytic converter was the only signficant item so far. We also had to replace the CD player module when it started eating disks and keeping them! I was impressed that Subaru voluntarily replaced all the engine gaskets at no cost after some head gasket seepage was noted during dealer service. I for one like the placement of the cupholder, even though it puts your cup in front of the air distribution control knob. The cup is ergonomically in a good position -- up high and easy to reach. The holder looks flimsy, but it hasn't broken. A great little vehicle, easily the best I have owned.
I bought my Subaru after reading glowing reviews. Everything was great until I reached about 60000 miles. after an expensive $1800 head gasket replacement and 2 axle replacements, leaking bushings, and a check engine light that's been on since 80,000 miles - I feel robbed-like I'm purchasing the same car all over again one repair at a time. I'm torn between taking my chances with the check engine light and just driving it for a couple more years and getting a Honda. The dealers are no help at all.